Portions of this post will not reflect well on me. Well, just one portion, really.
First, though...Tonight when I mentioned Ed Thornton at dinner my friend S.A. asked me if he was that guy on my blog with the girl, the one whose dress sense I talked about. That person is David Tennant! Ed Thornton gets his full name printed here because he remains hands down the best looking in-the-flesh person I've ever seen. Ooooo, he was good-looking! He was a friend of a friend of my then-boyfriend J., and I just thought he was the best-looking thing EVER. He had brown hair and blue eyes, and a lovely sharp nose, and high cheekbones, and pale skin. I remember the first time I met him, I was just completely bowled over by him; I can still feel the feeling now. WOW, he was good-looking. He was so good-looking that he was actually glossy - he shone, like a page from a magazine. He was 5'8", I remember, and although that's neither here nor there in the good-looking stakes, I also remember that about him fondly: I could see him when I talked to him. Although mostly when I talked to him what I wanted to do was giggle with delight. He had a good line of chat, too, did Ed.
In any case, as it happens I do not have a photo of Ed Thornton, and while I at first considered just putting up a photo of someone else named Ed Thornton, so there could at least be a photo of an Ed Thornton, in the end I decided that neither that nor my second idea, which was to put up a photo of David Tennant, was a good idea. So you'll just have to imagine Ed Thornton. Man was he good-looking.
Soooo...for New Year's Day my friend Jennifer came to visit here. This was an excellent way to start the new year: superfun. We went out for lunch and talked and talked. Jennifer's quite good at sympathising, which makes her someone restful to confide your worries to. I did tell her about my concerns about being single - not that I'll be single forever, but that it's probable I'll be single for the next two years, and that upsets me. I don't particularly want to waste two years of my life in that department.
In addition to Jennifer, a couple of other things happened to make me happy. First of all, I'm making real headway on my book. This revising is a very interesting experience, because it's forced me to grow up in certain ways, or maybe to practice forms of being grown-up I already knew I possessed but didn't want to practice. The original book manuscript is full of jokes, and lovely turns of phrase (they should be lovely; I worked on them enough), and just generally a lot of self-indulgence designed to amuse myself and my audience. But at a certain point very early in these most recent revisions I had to accept that my goal was not to amuse my audience but rather, if not to educate them, to write a book that would stand up as a plausible work of criticism by a smart critic. And in order to do that I had to cut the self-indulgent junk, face the fact that I wasn't as witty and instantly appealing as I thought I was, and write a book that would appeal not because I was fab but because it was. Out with all the jokes (except a couple of puns I couldn't bear to part with); out with the general sense that I was awfully pleased with myself. In with the discussion; in with the humility that makes you know you need to explain something rather than assert it. Is it painful? Oh, yeah. Does it make me sad to see my deathless prose hit the dust? You got that right. But at the same time I find it fascinating to watch myself grow in this way. It turns out I'm not as shallow as I thought I was.
Now, here is the bit that doesn't reflect well on me. Today I learned that my home department's eighteenth-centuryist is leaving; she has another job. Now, remember the person who parted ways with me early last year? The only reasons he gave were that he couldn't live in America long-term, and he didn't know what would happen once my year here was done - he didn't know how we would have gone on. Well, he works on the long eighteenth century: Romanticism, but also the whole eighteenth century. And my department will almost certainly be looking for someone to fill the spot for next year, the year I'll be returning after my year in Cambridge. Do I recognise that this is a kind of grim irony for me? Hoo boy, yeah. But when he chose to let me go and to go to someone else, he also signed himself up for a future that involved his remaining in Britain, with a part-time job that comes to an end at the end of this academic year, with no time to work on his academic book, and with a very poor salary. Did I mention that my department offers a 2/2 load, which leaves you plenty of time to write (as I well know), has superb library facilities, and pays £30,000 per year? So I'm thinking the irony is perhaps greater for him. And here is the part that doesn't reflect well on me: What do you think about that, Mr. Fallen? It turns out you could have had a job infinitely better than any prospect before you, and you could have had me too; it turns out it all would have worked out, and worked out damn well, after all. Still, I expect that girlfriend offers enough to ameliorate a grim job situation, a stagnating career, and very little money. So that's all right, then.
(...let me say here that I'm aware he could have had vastly different reasons for making the decision he did -- such as loving that person and not loving me, which makes an unassailable difference -- and let me also say that I've never blamed him, although I have been sad and angry. But, you know, distance was the reason I was given, and he broke my heart [italicised to show intensity of breakage] so I think I'm entitled to find a certain pleasure in this turn of events.)
Right, it's time for me to go to sleep. It's now so cold here that when I think about having a partner, I think about it largely in terms of how helpful it would be to have someone to curl up to in bed. In fact, years ago I told a friend that I thought there was a niche business to be started up in supplying platonic bedmates in winter, and I still stand by that. So, if you would like to come and combat the icy cold by sharing my giant bed, make yourself known! I would wear pyjamas with gnomes all over them, and I would be saintly in my actions. But just so you know, my hair is huge in the mornings.